Growth through innovations in sustainability is gathering momentum. The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which contained nearly $370 billion in programs to support green energy and other sustainability efforts, will only add fuel to an international market shift toward more sustainable products. As we’ve covered before, however, sustainability is not a value proposition, which leads to the question of what are the best green marketing strategies to capitalize on the demand for sustainable solutions? 

In this post, we want to look at how marketers in a number of industries are responding to their customers’ demands for sustainability. Let’s dig in to six successful green marketing strategies. 

Word of Mouth 

According to the EPA, 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 came from the transportation sector. Electric car makers, led by Tesla, will be a key part of reducing these emissions, but you’d never know it from Tesla’s green marketing, which focuses on word of mouth.  

From its inception, Tesla focused much more on positioning its brand as the cutting edge of automotive technology, innovation, and luxury than the environmental benefits of electric cars. Tesla’s green word of mouth marketing centered on industry test drives and the buzz generated by the specs, and customers, of its first model.  

As Tesla grew, it continued to focus on innovative features that the media couldn’t ignore, which helped position the company as the future of the industry and generate a highly loyal following. Technology enthusiasts couldn’t stop gushing about features like the touch-screen dashboard and self-drive. Performance enthusiasts wrote glowing reviews about Tesla’s revolutionary acceleration. And each step of the way, Tesla’s innovation kept stirring up the buzz rather than focusing on sustainability.  

Sustainability Scorecards and Third-Party Validation 

Sustainability dashboards and benchmarks have proliferated in the past few years (including our client the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership’s Impact Tracker). These ranking and rating systems can help your green marketing efforts gain traction, as they become an ongoing source of PR and social news.  

As an example, let’s take a look at Vertical Harvest, an indoor agriculture start-up seeking to grow its profile. Vertical Harvest has established a partnership with the Resource Innovation Institute (RII), an organization that measures and verifies significant sustainability improvements in agriculture that it calls its PowerScore. High-scorers become best practices, and have ready-made case studies that become excellent PR sources.  

In this case, the RII and Vertical Harvest team were able to use this third party validation to secure placement in an industry publication, Produce Grower.  

Community Marketing 

Consumer recycling is often at the forefront of sustainability efforts, but changing acceptance requirements and limited understanding of how to prepare and where to deposit used materials for recycling can often limit recycling programs’ effectiveness.  

In order to increase recycling rates and improve consumer participation, Waste Management of Florida started the Green Broward initiative to help the residents of Broward County Florida change how they treat waste. The program’s initiatives included a new website and community outreach to clarify how residents could support environmentally friendly disposal of questionable items like storm-damaged materials. 

High-Visibility Endorsements 

Solar power is transforming the energy industry, but residential adoption has lagged due to costs and limited understanding of how to make the switch. Utilities and governments have turned to high-visibility endorsements in order to drive adoption. 

California’s solar program administrators believe that much of their success is due to when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger launched his Million Solar Roofs campaign in 2004, using his star power at events, groundbreakings and in political discussions to generate momentum for what ultimately became a California law that has hit its goal.  

In another high-powered example, the Arizona Public Service partnered with Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns to promote its solar initiative. Nash’s market popularity helped raise the initiatives profile, which was marketed through radio and digital marketing, as well as a partnership that installed solar panels on the Phoenix Suns’ stadium. Inside the arena, solar-promoting signage ensured that thousands of fans each season would be exposed to the solar program. 

Co-Branding and Distribution Partnerships 

Many sustainability experts advocate switching to a plant-based diet in order to improve the food industry’s environmental footprint. However, a number of consumers remain skeptical of plant-based or lab-grown meat imitations. 

Impossible Foods’ plant-based Impossible Burger may seem like an overnight success, but the company has spent years perfecting its formula in order to make plant-based foods appeal to meat-eaters. First, came savvy branding, with the company realizing that an aspirational brand name – Impossible – would do a much better job of capturing consumers’ imagination than other potential names.  

Armed with a powerful name and tasty product, the next step was to get its product into the hands of consumers. And for that, Impossible partnered with Burger King. The hamburger chose Impossible over its competitors due to its performance in taste-tests, and after an initial trial run on April Fool’s Day went exceedingly well, Burger King expanded the offering nationwide. Both Impossible and Burger King devoted significant PR and social media resources to the promotion, which helped generate significant national awareness of the product.  

Influencer Marketing 

A number of brands are seeking to reach younger audiences through influencer marketing, with Kellogg’s Kashi and the VERY GOOD food companies leading the way. These brands will typically establish partnerships and sponsorships with a group of influencers interested in helping promote new product launches that focus on sustainable products and plant-based diets. Brands also find that the more involved influencers become in helping shape and guide the marketing efforts, the better outcomes and engagement they’re likely to see. 

We hope that these insights into successful green marketing strategies have been informative. If you’re considering marketing for your sustainable product, contact Young Marketing Consulting. 

Young Marketing Consulting Conquering the Fear of Innovation through Sustainability

Out latest white paper details how marketing strategists can leverage the global shift toward sustainable brands to supercharge growth.

Four Keys to Marketing Sustainable Brands - Nike Considered

Why do so many sustainable brands fail? They ignore these three keys.

How to Use Growth Models in Your Marketing Strategy

Marketing strategy’s fundamental goal is to drive growth. The challenge has always been figuring out exactly how to do so.

Tactical changes like ad spend increases or audience targeting refinements can spur incremental growth, while product development investments can drive bigger (but riskier) returns. So how do you decide where your marketing strategy will focus?

Fortunately, a number of researchers have studied corporate growth over the years and created a robust toolset of growth models to help guide marketing strategy. Today, we’re going to talk about how to use one of our favorites, the Ansoff Matrix, in your marketing strategy

What is the Ansoff Matrix?

The Ansoff Matrix was developed way back in 1957 as a way to organize potential sources of corporate growth, and has dominated MBA courses ever since. The matrix organizes growth opportunities according to two axes: markets, and products.

  • Market-Based Growth is customer-centric (an easy way to think of a market is as a group of like customers). Generally, you’re either looking to do a better job reaching a known market, or explore a new market to see what opportunities may exist.
  • Product-Based Growth is category-centric (a handy definition of a category is a group of like products that serve a larger need, say shaving supplies). Growth solutions here may involve finding new uses for an existing product or developing new products.

In our version of the matrix below, we’ve outlined several opportunities to drive growth that exist within each Ansoff quadrant drawn from a Harvard Business Review study that analyzed 181 companies’ growth histories to understand the drivers of sustained profitable expansion. This list is by no means exhaustive, but gives examples of different growth sources your organization can look to include in your marketing strategy.

How Can I Use the Ansoff Matrix in My Marketing Strategy?

The Ansoff Matrix is the perfect growth model to use in growth planning and brainstorming sessions with your marketing team, product managers, and business unit leadership. It’s an ideal fit in situations where leadership expects marketing to identify solutions to growth goals, or where the department may not have a defined growth process. While the matrix in itself does not dictate marketing strategy, it highlights directions that your marketing and business development strategy might potentially take.

The next step once you’ve identified your potential growth opportunities is to rank those options by feasibility, which will likely involve internal research and discussion, external market research, and customer/influencer conversations. Your goal at this stage is to simply get a general sense of whether an opportunity feels viable, or whether you may be trying to cross a bridge too far. Armed with this early data, you can then build your marketing strategy’s foundation on the most viable opportunities.

Struggling with your marketing strategy? Not sure where to where to look for growth? Young Marketing Consulting can help. Contact us to schedule your marketing strategy consultation.

Frustrated with privacy breaches and ever-more-intrusive digital advertising, consumers are taking control over their ad experience like never before, changing their privacy settings, using ad blockers, and welcoming changes like iPhone’s iOS 14 rollout that will require apps to get permission before tracking users’ searches and other data. What does this shift in both mindset and technology mean for businesses that rely on an effective digital advertising strategy to reach their customers?

How Many Consumers Are Opting Out of Digital Advertising?

How many iPhone users will opt-in to data collection?

There are an estimated 110.3 million iPhone users in the United States in 2021. Of these, how many will offer up their information when the iOS 14 update requires apps to obtain permission before collecting data?

While it’s possible that some users will agree to share information some of the time, it seems that most people will simply say no once it’s easy to decline. Facebook expects a more than 50% decline in Audience Network revenue, and the company has expressed concerns about its own revenue when advertising becomes less effective.

“We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14, and … may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS14 in the future.”

Facebook blog post

How Many Users are Employing Ad Blockers?

In 2019, almost 30% of internet users enabled ad blocking software at least some of the time. They cited reasons that include:

Ad blocker adoption is expected to continue a slow but steady rise.

Are Users Abandoning Social Platforms Like Facebook?

Facebook lost 2 million daily active users in the 3rd quarter of 2020, and its role in ongoing political and privacy controversies has since caused further erosion. Alternative platforms like (which promises no ads, no spyware, and no newsfeed manipulation) and (which is user-funded) have seen tremendous growth in 2021. 2.5 million users flocked to MeWe in just one week in January and Gab has been offline occasionally as it works to accommodate a continuous influx of traffic.

How Are Search Preferences Changing?

Although Google continues to dominate the search market, alternatives have grown in popularity as the tech giant has moved away from its “don’t be evil” code of contact and into far more revenue-driven territory. However, like Facebook, Google will need to make adjustments to its privacy practices in order to comply with Apple’s next update, and those changes are likely to impact advertisers in a negative way.

How Can Advertisers Counteract Ad Blocking?

Where do users of ad-blocking software find out about brands?

With less-targeted advertising poised to decline in effectiveness, marketers can turn to the above options to reach their target audience. While some options are costly and others will require a bigger time investment to succeed, they offer more organic ways to connect with users – without annoying them the way many digital ads do.

What About Paying Users for their Data?

Specific information freely provided by users is highly valuable to advertisers. Have we reached a tipping point at which platforms will begin to compensate users for their data? Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and lawmakers like Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) support granting people property rights to their data and requiring companies to pay for access. The Data Dividend Project, primarily based in California, is one such effort to pay people when companies use or sell their information.

In 2012, data buyers were purchasing in bulk at less than $0.01 per profile, but the Internet Advertising Bureau said the advertising ecosystem supported $300 billion in economic activity, making user data worth $1,200 per profile.

Similarly, Brave offers a browser that blocks ads while claiming to speed up load times and use less battery, going one step further and allowing users to earn rewards by viewing occasional ads that have been deemed safe by the site. The privacy aspects are similar to many other privacy-minded browsers, but when the rewards system is rolled out in full, it will be a unique difference.

Are you struggling to keep up with changing trends in data, privacy, and advertising? We can help you find an effective strategy to reach your audience – without making enemies along the way! Contact us today.

conquer your sales funnel

Last month, we wrote about the 5 Dos and Don’ts for Lead Generation in 2021. Today, we want to take a deeper dive into your sales funnel to explore detailed tactics that will help you master your funnel in the new year. We’ll be reviewing the four main steps that turn strangers into leads and then into sales:

  1. Understand the process.
  2. Generate new leads.
  3. Qualify your leads.
  4. Nurture your prospects.

Step One: Know Your Funnel

First, let’s look at the lead generation process that website visitors follow to become paying customers.

Quick Definitions:

Visitor: Your website visitors arrive on your website from a variety of sources. These include organic search, social media, paid marketing channels like Google Ads, referrals from other websites, or directly by typing in your URL.

Lead: When a person takes a desired action on your website and provides his or her information without making a purchase, you have a new lead (also known as a prospect).

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): Simply put, an MQL is a lead that is qualified, or has sales potential, based on the individual’s response to marketing efforts. This can include something as simple as providing an accurate email address, or something more involved like multiple website visits, downloading materials, or using a free trial.

Sales Prospect or Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Going one step further, an SQL is a lead that has been qualified as being ready to take the next step and become a customer. Sales Qualified Leads have been vetted by both marketing and sales and have demonstrated sufficient interest in further conversation.

Sales Opportunity: This is the big moment – the conversation that is designed to turn your prospect into a customer.

Active Account: Success! Your hard work paid off, and your lead has an active account with your business.

In the following chart, you can see what drives your visitors to continue down the funnel to become customers:

Step Two: Lead Generation

Lead generation can be expensive, so it’s important to understand where your organization can expect to find high-quality leads. The following chart illustrates where the best – and worst – leads are found. Keep in mind, even if a marketing tactic is associated with lower quality leads, it may still offer an affordable way to reach your target audience. The ROI may be worthwhile if the cost is low enough. As always, it takes a lot of testing to evolve a successful marketing strategy.

Metrics for Success

When you’re in the process of testing and measuring marketing efforts, it’s important to understand the benchmarks and metrics that will help you determine whether or not a campaign is working.

The average lead-to-opportunity conversion rate across industries is 13%, and the average time to conversion is 84 days. In the tech industry, the average lead costs $60 (and that cost is increasing quickly), while the average cost per lead for non-profits is $43.

Step Three: Qualification

Only 3% of new leads are ready to buy the moment they become a lead.

That means 97% will require more effort on the part of your marketing and sales teams to qualify and then nurture the lead until conversion. Many factors will influence exactly what this process looks like and whether or not you can expect your lead to become an active account.

Factors that Influence Lead Qualification

  1. Number of people involved in decision making: The more people weigh in on a purchase decision, the less likely a lead will convert. While there’s an 81% chance with a single decision-maker, there’s only a 35% chance with a group of six.
  2. Complexity of the sale: Direct sales have a short sales cycle and few influencers, while complex sales have a long sales cycle and many influencers.
  3. Response time: The chart below illustrates how dramatically success decreases just five minutes after a lead submits a form on your website.

4. Persistence: Sales teams that make multiple calls have much higher success rates. They also have a better chance of making contact on a Wednesday or Thursday as compared to any other weekday.

Sales teams who initiate one phone call have a 35% chance of making contact, but sales teams that call at least six times have a 90% or better chance.

Step Four: Nurturing Your Leads

Once your marketing and sales team has determined that a lead is qualified, it’s time to treat that lead with care until it turns into an active account. Don’t despair if the process takes longer than you anticipated; sometimes we’re surprised by how long the sales cycle can be for even a simple purchase. If the lead has met your qualifications, the right amount and type of nurturing actions can lead to that final conversion. Here are some common conversion rates to help you benchmark your efforts:

Main Methods for Lead Nurturing

  1. Social media
  2. Email
  3. Remarketing
  4. Sales representatives

Drilling Down on Email Lead Nurturing

Email is going to be the most cost-effective method of nurturing your leads, so it warrants more explanation. Email list segmentation and individualized messaging are the two most effective ways to personalize your messages, but there are numerous other useful options as well.

Good hooks to use in your emails include comparison guides, challenges to the status quo, data or surveys, and use cases. When you communicate, let your leads know how your product can solve their problems and make their work easier.

Marketing automation platforms offer a convenient way to nurture your leads on a consistent basis and respond to any actions they take on your website after becoming a qualified lead. There are so many marketing automation platforms to choose from, but some of the most popular include Marketo, ParDot, HubSpot, and Eloqua. All of these programs will allow you to track your leads, send out regular emails, and provide a customized experience to your leads when they visit your website, all things that should eventually turn your leads into active accounts.

Setting up marketing automation is an involved process, but once you have things in place, it’s easy to add additional email templates and other customizations to test out new strategies or messaging.

Are you ready to conquer your sales funnel in 2021 by implementing the best practices we’ve described above? Send us a message, and we’ll help you get started.

Five Things Every Non-Profit Marketer Must Do

Non-profit organizations face many challenges, especially in times of financial uncertainty. Competition for donors is fierce, and small organizations struggle to amplify their reach. Marketing can help, if non-profits implement the right strategies and stay focused on their objectives, but 20% of non-profits don’t even have a marketing budget and many others aren’t following a smart strategic plan for their marketing efforts. Here’s how they can do better:

1. Set Attainable Marketing Goals That are Realistic for Your Budget

If you’re among the 20% of organizations that lack a designated marketing budget, the first step is to set a budget that works for your non-profit. Non-profit organizations often make do with limited budgets for everything from staff to facilities to marketing, setting themselves up for failure via something the Stanford Social Innovation Review describes as “the non-profit starvation cycle.” To put it succinctly, when non-profit organizations reduce expenses to the point of debilitating their infrastructure, they cannot adequately function nor can they serve their target audience. Unfortunately, many organizations are quick to slash their marketing budgets when times get tough, and this is the exact wrong approach to take. A realistic marketing budget is generally 5-15% of one’s operating expenses.

Once your budget is set, it’s time to set attainable marketing goals to make sure you put that budget to good use. Non-profit organizations have a tendency to try to do everything, but that just isn’t realistic on most budgets. Instead, focus on a few specific areas to drive growth.

Thanks to for the image.

Of course, non-profits want to see an increase in donations, volunteers, and awareness, but failing to tie those vague aspirations to specific marketing actions can mean wasted time, effort, and money. A non-profit marketing strategist can help define clear goals and illuminate a solid, data-driven path to reach them. Then, on-going review and monitoring can ensure that each action is leading to the desired outcome – and if it isn’t, you know it’s time to change course before more time and money are wasted.

Think S.M.A.R.T. when planning your non-profit marketing goals.

2. Defend Against Activity Creep

You set a budget, and you started the strategic marketing efforts that should help you reach your goals. Now, following a long tradition in the non-profit industry, your board wants more. You can’t give them more without taking away from your existing campaigns, so what can you do?

  1. Think about hours and resources. How much times goes into your existing campaigns? How much money?
  2. If you want to take on additional marketing campaigns, ask for additional resources. If resources aren’t available, ask the board to set priorities with you and stick to them.
  3. Resist the urge to expand just for the sake of expanding. It’s more important to do a few things well than to do everything sporadically.

3. Create a Non-Profit Value Proposition That Resonates

While some donors and volunteers will help you out of the goodness of their hearts, you’ll need to convince the rest and you’ll need a strong value proposition to do so.

Start by clearly describing how people benefit from joining or helping your cause. Then move to identifying what your organization does that similar non-profits don’t.

Companies have products or services to promote, but non-profits have stories. How is your organization improving lives, advancing research, or using donations to make a difference in the world and the lives of the people involved? The best non-profit marketers have a clear answer for that question, along with creative ways to tell the stories that illustrate their successes (and their needs). The simplest way to go about storytelling for non-profits is to focus on blogs, social media posts, press releases, and other content that turn your donors and volunteers into heroes for your cause.

A 2017 Community Brands Member Loyalty Study found that the most frustrating content was irrelevant to their interests or flat-out boring. Take the time to tailor your content to your unique audience.

4. Diversify Your Marketing Efforts

In the age of popular crowdfunding options like GoFundMe and Facebook donations, some non-profit marketers get stuck thinking of social platforms as the primary way to connect. While the importance of social media in non-profit marketing cannot be denied (it’s a great way to share those stories and raise awareness), it shouldn’t be the only platform your organization uses to reach donors and volunteers. Press releases, events (in person or online), email, direct mail, billboards, and even search or banner advertising on the right websites are all smart ways to connect with the people who matter to your organization.

Consider the following must-have non-profit marketing platforms:

  • Email – Communicate regularly with people who have expressed an interest in your organization. Over time, this will be one of the most cost-effective marketing options you have.
  • Social Media – Engage regularly with your existing audience for free or expand your reach with affordable targeted ads.
  • Google Ads – Grants are available to qualified non-profit marketers.
  • Direct Mail – Direct mail response rates are at an all-time high of 5.1%, and 77% of millennials respond to direct mail as an advertising strategy.

Offline marketing is important for non-profits. The Abilia Donor Loyalty Study concluded that 73% of donors like short, snail-mail letters, and 56% want to see a printed annual report.

5. Update Your Website

Non-profit organizations are often quick to skimp on their websites, favoring old and outdated platforms to avoid the expense of a modern, mobile-friendly site. While website development can be costly, there are also affordable ways to bring your website out of the dark ages. Non-profit organizations can choose to work with web development interns, set volunteers up with user-friendly platforms like WordPress or SquareSpace, or consult with a professional marketing agency for strategic website design.

One of the most important things to consider when evaluating a non-profit website is the content architecture. Most organizations have a lot of content, but over time, it’s become disorganized and difficult to access. A solid content strategy paired with SEO tactics can help make things easier for your visitors and improve your search presence at the same time.

According to CharityNavigator, 40% of non-profit website traffic came from mobile users in 2018. We have every reason to believe those numbers will continue to grow exponentially as people do more and more from their tablets and smartphones. Mobile-friendly is a must for non-profit websites!

Does your organization need help developing the right non-profit marketing strategies to win over your donors and volunteers? Contact us to learn more about how we can help – we love working with organizations that are doing good in the world!

Marketing During Coronavirus

So what’s next?

At this point in the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve no doubt adjusted to remote operations, updated your customers on your status, and you’ve probably even sent out a tip or two about social distancing. But in many ways the hard part is just beginning: seeking growth amidst a slowing economy. So what should your marketing look like during the current pandemic?

Continuing to Market During a Slowdown Will Drive Greater Long-Term Revenue

First, a bit of personal history. I began my career as a marketing consultant at the tail end of the dot-com bubble. When it burst, one of the client projects I did was to evaluate the impact of marketing spend during a recession and I found something surprising:

Cutting marketing activities and spend during difficult times helps in the short term, but significantly damages a brand’s market share in the long term

We know this thanks to some strong historical research using a dataset called the Profit Impact for Marketing Strategy that has tracked companies’ spend in different areas and subsequent market performance since the 1970s. And what the PIMS data says is that, while companies that cut promotional spend usually see stronger returns during a recession, those returns come at the expense of long-term market share.

Marketing During Coronavirus - Average Return for Companies During a Recession Based on Marketing Spend


Marketing During the Cornavirus - the ROI Effect of Cutting Marketing Spend During a Recession

Note: a deeper review of the data is available in this presentation by Michael Johnston.


How Do You Market in Uncertain Times?

Of course it’s one thing to say “keep marketing” and it’s quite another to figure out how to do so in the face of reduced budgets, declining revenue, and general uncertainty. In these situations, digging in to a few core metrics can help you understand exactly where to focus resources and where to cut back on activity:

  • Impression Volume: Fundamentally, you want to keep your impression share as high as you reasonably can in order to capitalize on the fact that others are likely scaling back their activities. These impressions can come from anywhere: email, SEO, organic/viral social, sales touches, etc. The important thing is to make sure you’re not letting your volume of communications to the market slow.
  • Cost per Lead: Of course, not all impressions are created equal. No doubt you have a few low performing marketing channels that are taking time and budget from other areas. Now is the time to review your costs per lead across your various channels and cut out your low performers. Target cost per lead benchmarks for a number of industries from GoConvert appear below (as with any benchmark, your mileage will no doubt vary).

Cost Per Lead Benchmarks

  • Cost per sale: Arguably the most relevant metric to business results is your cost per sale. Here, you’re looking for the cheapest source of leads that convert to sales. What can you do to drive more volume in those channels, and where can you pause more expensive activities?


  • Time to close: Finally, keep an eye on your conversion timeframe from lead to sale. It is very common for decision cycles to lengthen during uncertain times, and you want to be hyper-aware of any changes that will impact your revenue forecasting.

The Most Cost-Effective Marketing Channels During a Recession

With the above in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most effective marketing channels to use during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Email: There’s a reason why you’re seeing emails from companies you’d thought forgot about you: early data is showing that email engagement is rising during the coronavirus pandemic.

Marketing During Coronavirus - Email Response Rates Since March from BounceX

March and April 2020 Email Interaction Data from BounceX

With more people in front of their devices for longer periods of time, coupled with the fact that increasing email volume has little incremental cost, this channel makes an ideal platform to stay in front of your customers.

But it’s not just the low cost of email that makes it an ideal tool. It’s the fact that email is the best lead conversion and customer upselling tool you have.

Acquiring a new customer costs five times more than growing revenue from an existing customer

Forrester research noted that growing business from your existing database is five times more cost effective than finding new customers. And there’s no time like a global pandemic to start boosting your marketing ROI via email.


2. Organic Social: As you’d expect if people were stuck inside for longer periods of time, social media analytics company RivalIQ has found that social engagement has increased across its user base.

Graph indicating that engagement rates have gone up correlated to a decline in posting frequency.

Interestingly enough, this growth has occurred in spite of posting frequency actually falling to ~3 posts weekly. The drop in posting is is likely due to many companies not quite wanting to return to normal scheduled activities in light of changing conditions, but the rising engagement indicates that, just as with email, people are spending more time on their social channels.

While organic social media typically doesn’t enjoy the same reach as paid social posts, you can make up for a lower ad budget by interacting more with your followers in order to boost engagement.

3. SEO: how many of you would have turned to search engine optimization in response to a pandemic? While SEO is generally not thought of as a fast-acting marketing channel, the fact is that people can only be glued to the coronavirus news for so long before they’re going to return to their normal browsing habits. And with more people stuck inside with nothing to do, overall search volume is skyrocketing.

Web browsing has increased by 70% according to one media study

There’s never been a better time to freshen up your site’s content, push out that white paper, or make sure that your metadata is as cleaned and optimized as it can be. Google ranks sites based on recency of updates (among many other factors), and you don’t want to be losing impressions because someone else posted a more current blog.

What Should Marketers Say During Coronavirus?

You’ve probably seen (or sent) a version of the “standard” pandemic response email dozens of times by now: a few vague platitudes about being “in this together,” a note on operational changes, and maybe a discount offer or two. But now that we’re more than a month into social distancing, there’s not much new most brands will be able to contribute to the pandemic conversation and market research studies have shown that brands are not seeing advertising damage their reputations during this time, so it’s more than appropriate to return to your “normal” campaigns.

Marketing During Coronavirus - Consumer Advertising Attitudes

It’s appropriate to return to “normal” marketing messages, provided you recognize the “new normal”

An understanding of how your target audience’s needs have shifted, and how your value proposition will need to adjust to meet those needs, is your best friend when developing your ongoing “corona campaigns”. Here are a few messaging tips for how to shape your marketing messages during COVID-19:

1. Keep Practicality and Direct Action at Your Message’s Core

The majority of consumers and businesses are tightening their belts during this uncertain period, so your messaging should stay focused on the very immediate, practical benefits your call to action will deliver. If your product or service is discretionary, what are some ways in which it can help your customers deal with the current situation? How can you help their peace of mind?

If you’re offering a more “essential” product or service, how will your customers access it? What does the process look like? Focus on the details of your offer, as opposed to awareness-based campaigns. A recent Coronavirus Trust Barometer report from Edelman provides guidance on the specific tone to strike:

Marketing During Coronavirus - Consumers' Messaging Expectations


2. Use Deals and Discounts Sparingly

Offering deep discounts is a double-edged sword: you might need them to encourage purchase from an otherwise reluctant audience, but that same audience will remember that low price down the road and come to expect it. Two industries stuck in this cycle are the automotive industry with its 0% down financing and fast food chains with their dollar menus. You can counteract this issue with limited time offers, but you’ll need to be judicious about deploying your doorbusters. You may create long-term price concerns that are difficult to overcome.

In these situations, it might be more appropriate to offer additional incentives with purchase such as free support, other giveaways, product tie-ins, and more rather than an initial heavy discount.

3. References to the Pandemic Should Come With Action That Can Help

If you are still referencing the COVID-19 pandemic in your marketing, consumer mood has shifted from desires for information to expectations for action. And those brands that are taking action: raising money, making donations, shifting production to meet PPE demands, are the ones best-positioned to earn future business:

Marketing During Coronavirus - Future Impact on Brands

Think of Twitter’s CEO donating $1 billion to coronavirus relief, or Nordstrom retraining its tailors to make PPE. These are the actions that consumers expect.


Marketing During Coronavirus Will Take Caution and Patience, but it Will Pay Off

We hope that this post has been helpful as you gather yourself for the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’d like to schedule a conversation about exactly how you can keep marketing during these uncertain time, please contact us.

Negativity is an attention magnet.

These days, you could be forgiven for thinking that the world is falling apart. The worst of humanity seems to fill our newsfeeds on a daily basis, to the point where all that bad news appears to be seriously affecting people’s mental health.

The Challenge of Marketing a Good Cause - Is the World on Fire?

Actual photograph of the world today?

But in reality, the world is safer than ever beforecrime in the U.S. is approaching historic lows, and the U.S.’s renewable energy production recently surpassed coal-based output for the first timeElon Musk, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet all think that now is the best time to be alive.

So why is it so hard for positive messages to cut through the clutter?

The answer is negativity bias, and it makes marketing a positive product or positive message more difficult than ever. Fortunately for those of us trying to fight the “good” fight, the recipe for successfully marketing good causes does exist.

Let’s start by examining the main challenge a marketer faces when trying to promote a positive message.

What is Negativity Bias?

Numerous studies have confirmed that people gravitate more toward negative content, which is likely caused by our brains being wired to respond more sharply to perceived threats. The majority of media and websites, driven by the goal of raising advertising revenue, have leaned into this negativity bias in order to grow viewership, which leaves little room for organizations looking to promote a positive message.

Or does it?

The reality is that people crave good news and positive stories. Promoting them simply takes a lot more work and a defined strategy in order to cut through the negativity. Let’s look at five ways to market good causes below.

Five Ways to Market Good Causes

1. Speak Directly to the Tangible Benefit Your Audience Will Receive

The most important realization for any organization trying to recruit consumers for a positive cause is that the altruists in any market represent a small percentage of the total universe. Let’s look at green purchasing as an example:

What this data means is that at the end of the day, no matter how noble your cause, people will still make their purchase decisions based on perceived individual benefits (value, convenience, price, etc.).

Your marketing should lean into this realization, and focus on the tangible benefits your audience will experience as individuals if they choose your offering. Data can help immensely here, as we’ll see below.

2. Put Data on Your Side

For the purposes of marketing “good”, there are two types of data:

  • Statistics which show the extent of the problem you’d like your audience to solve
  • Data that shows how your audience will benefit from your solution

As we’ve already learned, the first dataset will get people’s attention, but the second will drive them to action.

Let’s take renewable energy as an example, specifically combating global warming through solar power.

Let’s read that statement as an individual human. What can one person possibly do about such a huge issue? For most of us, very little, which is why it’s important to focus more heavily on individual benefits.

  • How your audience will benefit: switching to solar power will save you $1,000 a year in electricity costs

How to Market a Good Cause - The Tangible Benefits of Switching to Solar Power

This second data point, drawn from this CleanTechnica data, links the action you want your audience to take, switching from fossil fuels, to the individual benefit that will help push them to make a decision.

Communicating with this kind of individual benefit data will help you grow traction in any marketplace.


3. Identify and Resolve Your Market’s Adoption Barriers

Customers will always follow the path of least resistance. So remove the resistance.

Customer purchase decisions generally follow the path of least resistance. While there are always exceptions, most people will choose the cheapest, easiest solution for most products. So what does this mean when you’re marketing a good cause?

Unfortunately, if your solution asks your audience to go out of their way, invest a lot of time for an uncertain return, or pay more, it will often fall on deaf ears. And the key to solving this challenge is to do the legwork in order to make adoption as easy as possible for your audience.

Five Ways to Market a Good Cause - a Paper Cup

Please recycle me

Here, I’ll use an example from a printing company trying to sell an improved paper cup to a major food and beverage retailer that would have made the recycling of that retailer’s cups much easier. The cost of using this new cup would have increased the price of each cup by a fraction of a cent. This doesn’t sound like much, but for a publicly owned company purchasing millions of cups a day, the profit impact plus the effort of switching vendors proved to be too much.

What could this printing company have done? Perhaps they could have offered discounts in other areas to put their price at parity. Perhaps they could have waived other charges. Or perhaps they were just facing a bridge too far. But the point is that “doing good” is not enough. The barriers that this particular customer faced needed to be removed.

How do we do it? Make the path you want your audience to take dead simple.

If you’re collecting donations, why not go to people’s houses instead of requiring them to come to you? If you’re trying to promote green energy, it might be time to hire a lobbyist to get preferential legislation passed that tilts the scales in your favor. If you’re marketing a more expensive green product, consider what you can do to come close to price parity with less eco-friendly competitors.

These efforts are difficult, but they matter when you’re dealing with decisions based on fractions of a cent.

4. Build External Pressure

As we touched on earlier, nothing motivates a business or market more than bad news. Poor press, public backlash, or shifting market preferences can all push an organization to take action.

How to Market a Good Cause - Jon Stewart and Mitch McConnell

Jon Stewart in the Senate hallway before the final vote on the 9/11 First Responders’ Compensation Fund.

Let’s take Jon Stewart as an example. His recent push to get the federal government to re-authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund saw him going to great lengths to call out senators who were viewed as obstructing the bill’s passage, ultimately leading to the bill’s reauthorization for the foreseeable future.

How can you ramp up the pressure on your audience? There are many tactics to do so, from letter-writing to Greenpeace’s more controversial direct action efforts. These days, a coordinated social media campaign can often be effective. The key is to use this approach over time, and provide a pathway for those involved to take action in the meantime (per our third point above).

5. Dominate the News Cycle – with Positivity

Finally, it’s important to remember that more and more individuals are providing news and other content via social media. And deep down, people crave positive content.

A study from the New York Times and the Marketing Science Institute found that while content that evoked anger or anxiety was more frequently shared, positive content was actually more viral overall.

Over the long term, positive content is more viral.

As well, social media scientist Dan Zarrella has shown that the more negative your account, the more you’ll see your followers leave.

Five Ways to Market a Good Cause - the Impact of Negative Posts on Follower Count


So what’s our lesson here? If you post positive messages and content about all the good results your cause is generating (as opposed to the challenges it faces), you’ll be doing a great job of counteracting the negativity generated out in the media.

And you want to tout those wins as often as you can – one study found that a ratio of 5 positive interactions were required to counteract one negative attitude or behavior. So turn up the volume and let your positive vibes fly!

I hope that you’ve found our five tips to market good causes in a negative world valuable. If you’d like to talk more about how to get your positive message out to your audience, please get in touch!


Four Ways to Survive the Death of the Marketing Middle Class

Although you might not be aware of it, your business is locked in a digital marketing arms race. And there are increasing signs that the ultimate victors will be those companies that can afford ever-increasing marketing investments.

A few examples:

Facebook Organic Reach Decline


Marketing is Getting More Expensive

In the past, it might have been good enough to have a smart digital marketer in your department who could keep you afloat with efforts to drive organic traffic. But with digital marketing real estate becoming more expensive by the hour, the lion’s share of web traffic will go to those who can afford to invest the most in paid awareness, which will favor larger organizations.

So where does that leave those of us with limited marketing budgets, marketing’s “middle class”? We may indeed be facing the death of the digital marketing middle class, but don’t worry, we’ve got three ways to survive and grow your marketing presence online.

How to Best Invest Limited Marketing Budgets

1. Hyper-Target Your Content Marketing and Social Media Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes we see smaller marketers trying to make is stretching their efforts too thinly. If you have limited resources, it’s simply not possible to be present everywhere you might find a customer. And this is important to recognize, because successful marketing requires a certain level of impression volume to be effective.

A good rule of thumb: you need to get your message in front of someone 7 times before it will register with them.

It’s much better to execute a smaller-scale campaign very well and be very responsive to that particular audience than to try and boil the ocean. What does that mean in practicality?

  • Scale back your social ambitions: You don’t need to be present on every channel (although you should reserve your account names just in case). Instead, focus on building a community and driving engagement on the one or two channels where your efforts can have the biggest impact. Be relentless about participating in discussions and responding to customers. This engagement will be key to building your audience.
  • Tighten your geographic or market focus: Everyone wants an international business, but budget often gets in the way. If you can’t afford to reach everyone you’d like, focus on the areas where you’re getting the most return. That might be a few cities, or a particular industry within a larger market. Look for patterns, and double-down where you see results.
  • Choose a keyword niche to dominate: Keyword targeting is the core of any good SEO strategy. But when you’re competing with companies that have an army of paid content writers on staff, the best way to drive organic traffic is to focus on a smaller keyword or search phrase niche and become the most visible resource in that particular space.

2. Maintain at Least a Small Paid Ad Presence

As shown below, the top spot on Google captures approximately 30% of search traffic, with the top 5 results driving ~80% of traffic. As we saw above, with Google Ads now comprising 40-50% of the listings on the first search engine results page (SERP), this means that, like it or not, you’ll need a paid ad presence on Google to keep your share of search constant.

4 Ways to Survive the Death of Marketing's Middle Class - Chitika's Research on Share of Impressions by Page Position

To do so cost effectively, be ruthlessly targeted with your ad keywords.  Focus only on those that are the most relevant to your business and drive lead conversion cost effectively. Review your data weekly until you’ve settled your keyword list, and then focus on optimizing your spend appropriately to maintain position.

3. Mine Those Who Already Know You

Acquiring a new customer costs five times more than growing revenue from an existing customer

One of the most overlooked resources in any business is its existing list of leads and customers. According to Forrester Research, growing business from your existing database is five times more cost effective than finding new customers. However old they are, these contacts are already favorably disposed to your business, and may just need to have an offer in front of them at the right time to convert. The trick to doing so is staying disciplined using the process below.

  • Set up a regular communications schedule to everyone on your list
  • Plan out an offer series mixed with informational content to keep each message fresh
  • Test all aspects of your campaigns to identify which elements (email send times, subject lines, etc.) drive the biggest response
  • Drill down on your non-responsive contacts – for those individuals who never open an email, does a phone call re-activate them, or have they left their company?
  • Use periodic surveys with incentives as a way to understand what will drive contacts to future purchases

A last note here – don’t worry about unsubscribes (unless they come in droves). Any lead who removes themselves from your mailing list is not someone who will purchase from you, and it lets you focus your attention on those who will.

4. Prioritize Your Marketing Software Investment

Roughly 6,829 marketing software tools exist as of this writing, and that number is surely growing by the minute.'s Marketing Technology Lanscape in 2018’s Marketing Technology Landscape in 2018 – that’s a lot of software!

Such a high volume of tools can make it difficult to allocate your software budget. Worse, you might feel that you have to purchase a certain tool in order to drive results. With that in mind, here are the ways in which we recommend prioritizing your marketing software spend (and what we recommend getting for free).

Prioritized List of Essential Marketing Software

  1. Website CMS/Lead Capture: Your marketing won’t be effective if it’s not bringing people in the door, and for most of us, this means our web presence is critical. While any software that will help you capture leads (landing page/form software, chatbots, etc.) can certainly help, there are a number of free CMS tools like WordPress available that will get you started.
  2. Email Marketing and Automation: Once you’ve captured a lead, it’s time to drive that lead to conversion. And to do that, you’ll need email to stay in front of them. The best email marketing tools include marketing automation that can execute campaigns based on a lead’s behavior.
  3. Web/Campaign Tracking and Analytics: Google’s Marketing Platform is the most effective platform for tracking campaign performance and web traffic, and it offers a robust suite of free tools. Combined with Google Search Console and Google My Business, you won’t find a better combination.
  4. Search/Social Media Marketing: it’s not always ideal to manage campaigns across multiple platforms, but the free built-in tools for most of the major networks (Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) are more than robust enough for daily use.
  5. CRM: Leads and contacts are the lifeblood of your business, and a system to organize them is essential. A well-configured CRM system will also support your sales and marketing activities operations through list management, lead tracking/scoring, automated processes/reminders, and more. Many CRMs provide some level of email marketing capability as well.

From this point forward, your choice of software will depend on your budget, your operational requirements, and where you can drive the biggest return by becoming more sophisticated. But if you start with the five essential marketing software tools above you’ll be building a solid foundation.


Conclusion – a Healthy, Cost Effective Marketing Strategy

We hope that you’ve found the above helpful in prioritizing your marketing investments. Good luck, and if you’d like to discuss how this approach might work in your business, please contact Young Marketing Consulting today.